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Home for the holidays
Family Center debuts new look in old hospital
Faye Taylor, left, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, offers a pamphlet to Amy Bennett of Simply Grace during a tour Nov. 20 of the renovated Forsyth County Family Center.

The near-freezing temperatures couldn’t contain Nicole McCoy’s excitement over the renovated Forsyth County Family Center.

“It was just so wonderful to see this really long project have the final puzzle piece put into place, and that was really reintroducing the community to the work we all do so they know we are here and we are here to serve them,” said McCoy, executive director of Community Connection.

Community Connection is one of the 15 nonprofit organizations that operate out of the center, which held a ribbon cutting and facility tours Nov. 20.

“It was so nice to see the community interfacing with the agencies that are in the building,” McCoy said.

Owned and operated by Ninth District Opportunity, the center has served as a family resourses building since 2000.
Ninth District Opportunity, a managing partner with Community Connection, bought the building in 2003 from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Foundation.

Among the 15 nonprofits operating out of the facility are Girl Scouts of Northeast Georgia, Whispering Hope, Angel Connection, Simply Grace and the American Red Cross.

Many of those attending Thursday’s ribbon cutting and tour were fellow nonprofit organizations and community members.

Jack Clunen, maintenance director at low-income senior citizen living facility Good Shepherd Place, said he “used to come here when it was a hospital many years ago.”

“It’s a big change from the hospital to what it is today,” he said.

Clunen said his facility is not a partner agency with Community Connection, but residents of Good Shepherd Place often use the resources at the family center.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt spoke at the event, recalling the building’s construction in 1958.

“The building was originally built under the Hill Burton Act, a federal program which built hospitals in financially struggling areas,” he said.

Since then, Gravitt said, nobody has wanted to work on the structure.

“One of the reasons nobody wanted to take on the task of renovating this building ... was because of the flat roof on it,” he said. “I can’t believe the work that’s been done.”

Pat Shope, director of development for women’s resource and pregnancy center Whispering Hope, said she was excited about the facelift.

Shope offered tours of her wing of the building, including separate boys and girls clothing closets, medical equipment and new diaper storage room.

“It’s a really great place to work because there’s so much joy,” she said.

The revitalization project has been a yearlong process, which included planning, construction and securing funding.

In addition to new ceiling tiles, adequate fire safety and updated heating and air systems, the building also received new carpeting, paint and lawn equipment.

McCoy said each nonprofit worked on its own space while the major work was taking place.

“The Ninth District does allow each individual office to have its own personality, based on the agency that’s in the office,” she said.

“Agencies took this opportunity to clean up and clean out, to really go through with making this place brighter and more cheerful.”

A lot of “really important things” went into making the building feel more professional, McCoy said.

“It’s generally a happy place to be,” she said. “So when families who are in need come in, they’re coming to a place where they feel they are respected, and where people genuinely want to help them.”

E-mail Jennifer Sami at